Pine-cone party hats, a camping trip gone awry, and three creative compatriots make for a rollicking read-aloud, perfect for...

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SURPRISE!

A story about a woodland party that offers a surprise to all the guests!

There is an oft-quoted saying that familiarity breeds contempt. Bear, Raccoon, and Squirrel suffer from that dreaded malaise, long-standing pals that they are. It’s not so easy to make new friends, they soon discover. So what will save our heroes from ennui? Why, the arrival of unexpected humans from the city, of course! And what would new city friends like? Why, a surprise welcome party, of course! Bear, Raccoon, and Squirrel get right to work on assembling food, entertainment, and decorations, all “splendid,” of course. But though the surprise doesn’t go as planned—a whole double-page spread proclaiming “SURPRISE!” is indeed unexpected for these urban campers—sometimes that can be the best solution of all for the friends. Watercolor-and-gouache illustrations, finished digitally, perfectly capture the charm and whimsy of this sylvan tale of friendships new and old. Eagle-eyed readers will catch the humorous origins of these party elements, and the comic-book–style speech bubbles add an additional level of humor and drama. The author’s decision to include a family of color adds a nice detail of daily diversity to this animal-filled tale.

Pine-cone party hats, a camping trip gone awry, and three creative compatriots make for a rollicking read-aloud, perfect for summer campfires. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-13919-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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